Manipulating the YouTube Algorithm – (Part 1/3) Smarter Every Day 213 – Digitalmunition

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Published on March 31st, 2019 📆 | 8442 Views ⚑


Manipulating the YouTube Algorithm – (Part 1/3) Smarter Every Day 213

My first video of a 3 part series on “coordinated inauthentic behavior”. Thanks to ExpressVPN for sponsoring this series. Get 3 months free with 12-month plan at Click here if you’re interested in subscribing:
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Test your internet connection for leaks here:
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Renée Diresta is a Mozilla Fellow in Media, Misinformation, and Trust, where she researches unintended consequences of algorithms and works towards helping machines make better decisions. Renee also writes about disinformation and the changing face of information war — check out her essay “The Digital Maginot Line” ( — and is a contributor to Wired Ideas (

Here are examples of some of the videos in question

(Open these videos in incognito mode so you don’t mess up your algorithm.) – 298k views 8k views

To say this presentation style is shady is an understatement. Quite interesting. – 107k views

Here’s one of the channels:

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Ambiance and musicy things by: Gordon McGladdery did the outro music the video.
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44 Responses to Manipulating the YouTube Algorithm – (Part 1/3) Smarter Every Day 213

  1. BARDOCK says:

    I thought this video was about how Youtube manipulates it's trends, holds creators down and systematically censores people…

  2. Fun fact : hackers/trolls don't need to create new accounts for trolling. They just need to hack accounts and troll with the new accounts. Here me out: last year, my Instagram account got hack by a Russian. I've reported multiple times to Instagram that my account got hack so they need to re-give me access to it or delete the account. Nothing happened on my account. They've never deleted or re-give the account to me. So, this hacker can use this account (who has already some legit followers and posting) to troll. And the credibility might be higher then coming from a new account. Think about that! This is not fun

  3. John Galt says:

    wAiT, sO cOmMeNtInG oN a ViDeO hElPs It?

    How do people not know this?

  4. Mostly from Ukraine, been monitoring that same thing for a while. Same people that post videos of free video games to phis accounts. Aka free vbuck videos that are longer than a minute and ask for user and password

  5. Davey says:

    You are overthinking this concept. Back-to-Basics……For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction

  6. Just watched this video and almost immediately came to realize that a new video is trolling your being a Christian. God bless them.

  7. hunteil says:

    You Sir are a Saint. 🙂

  8. Jim Arndt says:

    Did anyone see the Bible reference at the end of the video?

    Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

  9. karl9xd says:

    Why manipulate it? When you can destroy it

  10. MFMP007 says:

    Just keep yourself from clicking the video that looks suspicious.

  11. I’d like to tell the algorithm this was a great video.

    Also, I’d like to tell Destin that that chicken video was the first video of his I ever saw, and I just got a flood of joy remembering how each of my family and friends reacted when I got to haul out my laptop and show them the magic that is poultry-proprioception.

  12. it is not the capillarity that makes the sap of the trees go from the roots to the leaves through the xylem, but the negative pressure caused by the perspiration in the leaves.

  13. I've been saying it since 2016 elections. The Russian troll farm making political ads on facebook and youtube were doing it for ad revenue. They like many other people around the world were using social media to publish hot topic subject matter that would get them views and they would turn that into ad revenue. It had absolutely NOTHING to do with meddling in elections. Blaming Russia for meddeling in the elections was just a scape goat the DNC used to cover up for their own crimes and failures.

  14. If you cannot calmly engage and listen to someone with a different view than your own, the bots will find you.

  15. Durox Kilo says:

    so simple question: if you want to buy an advertisement package from whatever company, aren't you interested in your target?

    if you do, than clearly the advertisement package was falsely advertised to you: you're selling flowers and yt shows your ads to locusts…

    i guess my dilemma is, how can a prestigious company be ok with its ads being shown on all sorts of dubious videos?!

  16. Durox Kilo says:

    all these platforms really facilitate some great happenings that have never been experienced by our species: education, culture, compassion, relationships.. BUT, so much more can be done to curb the bad things doing on….. and i'm under the impression that some important and basic things are not really a priority with these big companies.

    @10:20 'it's really easy to get mad at yt at this point'… right, and for some good reasons also. how can yon not stop a viral video? no one at yt watches yt, is that it? :}

    of course it's difficult to automatically detect and catch everything BUT it takes a person exactly 12.1 seconds to recognize that type of nonsense. it takes a click to take it down, or downgrade it, or put a disclaimer on it before it reaches millions of people. that gives you an idea about how many people work on this stuff and how well they're being reimbursed.. don't they make extremely large amounts of money? (including the fake videos as some carry ads and someone payed for those ads)

    yet they invest small amounts of resources in actual 'hands on the keys' people. the fact that we had and still have extremely disturbing videos making it to the top is more than a failure of the automated system: it's a failure of the whole system… I could go on about the conditions of work some of the 'censors' have to deal with… it's truly a failure based on greed not on broken algorithms…
    may i continue my rant? :} all the big players want as many accounts and active people on their platform. why would they deactivate 10,20,30% of the fake accounts?

    remember when FB was on the news every 10min telling us how many users they have?:}
    big numbers equal higher prices for their advertising packages. no incentive to take down large amounts of fake account, none. in fact if you have ever tried to work with FB in trying to remove an account opened in your name/email, you'd know how difficult, how long it takes, etc.. and that is the reason why.

  17. C Ritter says:

    Blessed are the peacemakers.

  18. fitacola88 says:

    beeep boop beep. i'm simulating a bot commenting to fool the algorithm. and maybe make a fool out of myself in the process

  19. PL says:

    Can everyone search Bill Gates in YouTube and report the streams saying that you can get double money when you send bitcoin to an address…

  20. Thanks I did not know.
    Is this one of the tactics Russia uses to destabilize the US? Could be…

  21. 127Nomis says:

    I like the video and your content in general, but one small thing is bothering me : you should really stop using the phrase "the bad guys". It promotes a manichean view of the world that is, in my opinion, very noxious.

  22. Fruit Fuzz says:

    The worst part is when you find these types of channel there isn't a proper way of reporting them to youtube. Sure you can report channels, but none of the listed match your concern

  23. The government just passed a 2 trillion bailout that will debauch the currency far beyond the point ever thought imaginable and you are worried about a YouTube algorithm.

  24. Michael Moore's not as fat brother!

  25. You went all the way to Silicon Valley to be told it doesn't violate the t o s so so what. Too funny.

  26. Mark S says:

    Feels like these other channels are testing the algorithm to see what they can get past it.

  27. I am glad to see this I will share

  28. This is a classic video, but still begs the question:
    What if the bad actor trying the manipulate the system to control the outcome of elections — is the owner of the platform.
    So, were the interviews of Google and YT management, where they said openly that IF WE HAD KNOWN WHAT THE OUTCOME OF THE ELECTION WAS GOING TO BE, WE WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE ENGAGED (to prevent it / change the outcome) — fake? When they were interviewed before Congress, were their answers fake?
    We cannot trust the gatekeeper, if the gatekeeper is mainly interested in controlling US.

  29. mds19238 says:

    No, you don't possess some magical power that tells you what is in another's heart…if you did you wouldn't be wasting your time with this as there are far greater problems in this world than discussing the personal thoughts of YouTube engineers.

  30. “Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I've found it is the small things… everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love."
    ~ Gandalf

  31. I think it is important to realize that there are entities in and out of the us that want only to destroy the piece of mind of the common American and sow chaos and hatred in and amongst the population.

  32. datGuy0309 says:

    You should do something like this video on Soul Publishing. They have multiple of the top youtube channels, and they are a content farm that makes up a lot of fake stuff for views and they had some russian propaganda. 5 minute crafts, bright side, 7 second riddles, and many other channels are owned by them

  33. Thank you very informative message now I know I had a gut feeling we got attacked a 2016

  34. 1:00 right like only stupid people watch those videos

  35. This video is very informative. It all make sense. What can we do as creators to bring it back to normal?

  36. I am sure US government noticed it and would use it promote Democracy in Hong Kong. Trump's Chinese virus would help a lot too.

  37. Well, it's sad that there are people out there who fall into this trap and play this game. For myself, I don't watch the news anyway because I know it's just a game, it's only part of our experience here and no one can make me fight against anyone else unless I know myself that I want to. Of course, I don't want to fight anyone!

  38. Thank you for taking the time to watch the video. This is video 1 of a 3 part series on Social Media Algorithm manipulation and countermeasures. Even if you're aware of these issues, odds are your friends and parents are not. I'm hoping we can use this video series to educate an incredible amount of people about the realities of algorithmic manipulation online. The engineers tasked with working on these problems take their jobs very seriously and they are truly the unsung heroes in this fight. I'd be honored if you shared this video with someone you love.

    I'm on Twitter at:
    You can subscribe here for the rest of the series (in process):

    Note: This is a completely apolitical video. I don't care what side of the aisle you're on, you're a target of these types of attacks. I'd like to say thank you to everyone at these three companies (and those beyond) willing to discuss this very sensitive topic, and giving me your trust. This touches many different areas…. technical engineering, human interactions, artificial intelligence, IT, financial incentives, law enforcement, attempts to manipulate others, etc. This is an absolutely fascinating topic and I believe it's imperative that we talk about these issues more openly so even the most lackadaisical social media user is aware of them. I have realized lately that in general, people online are very eager to become angry at these platforms whenever there is the slightest misstep, without truly understanding the impossible engineering tasks these individuals have been given.

    I'd like to thank Renée Diresta for taking the time to discuss these issues openly with me. She wrote a wonderful piece called the "Digital Maginot Line" ( For those unfamiliar, the maginot line was an amazing undertaking to create a defensive front, which was easily sidestepped. It's worth your time.

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